One of the most exciting attractions for tourists in any place or destination is the exploration of local cuisine and trying out foods specific to that city or country. In recent years, street food has become highly significant, and in every country, there are areas where multiple food vendors gather, each offering a world of delicious and enticing dishes at reasonable prices. Tehran, the capital of Iran, with its high population and bustling streets, is one of the main hubs for street food in Iran. In this article, we intend to discuss the best street foods in Tehran and Iran and areas for enjoying street food in Tehran.
Famous Street Food in Tehran
Throughout Tehran, you can find a variety of street foods, including local Iranian dishes like kebabs, sandwiches, burgers, falafel, soup, Mirza Ghasemi, and… The cultural influences of immigrants in Tehran have added even more diversity to street food, so you can also discover foreign foods like pizza, tacos, Indian kebabs, and sushi on the streets. However, the best street foods in Tehran include:
Sambuseh is a delicious Asian snack made from ingredients like meat, mashed potatoes, and more, wrapped in thin lavash bread. The primary components are usually meat or potatoes, mixed with various spices to create a delightful flavor. If someone tries it once, they’re likely to become a lifelong fan. Sambuseh is a tasty treat enjoyed year-round, and you can always find it in Tehran.
Del-o-Jegar (Heart and Liver)
This popular Tehran street food is suitable for meat lovers and is available in Tehran all year round. While it was once a dish reserved for royals and the elite, now people from all walks of life can enjoy its savory taste. Del-o-Jegar comes in various forms, such as heart, liver, kidney, spleen, or liver wrap, all quickly prepared and readily available on the streets. It might not sound too appealing to some, but it’s usually lamb or beef. They cut it into pieces, mix it with spices, and grill it on aluminum skewers over hot coals. In Iran, it has many fans.
Ash Reshteh, known as Persian Noodle Soup in English, is one of the most famous Iranian dishes. This Persian street food recipe includes various legumes, herbs, fried onions, dried mint, noodles, salt, turmeric, and pepper. People often eat Ash Reshteh with Kashk (a dairy product similar to yogurt) or sometimes with vinegar. You can find this popular dish in Tehran all year round, but it’s especially favored during the cold winter months.
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Falafel is a popular Middle Eastern street food that’s usually sold by vendors or small eateries in countries like Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, and Iran. It’s also considered a vegetarian dish and is one of the best street food in Tehran. One of the appealing features of falafel is its crispy and crunchy exterior while having a soft and flavorful interior. The ingredients typically include chickpeas along with various spices, mixed to form small balls that are then deep-fried. You can easily get falafel throughout the year on the streets of Tehran.
Laboo and Baghali (Beets and Broad Beans)
The sale of Laboo (or red beetroots) and Baghali (cooked broad beans with vinegar and lemon) adds a special atmosphere to Tehran during the cold winter days, and people enjoy these traditional winter delicacies. In most of the main streets of the city center during the winter, you’ll find vendors selling these tasty treats. Some shops on the outskirts of the streets have also added these foods to their menus alongside other dishes. You can only find these delicious treats in the city during the cold seasons (fall and winter).
Corn or Sheer Belal
Corn, also known as Sheer Belal in Iran, is one of the most famous street foods you can enjoy at any time of the year, thanks to modern storage and preservation methods. This Iranian snack recipe includes grilling the corn, soaking it in saltwater, and serving it with lemon juice. But you can also find vendors serving corn with mushroom sauce. Corn, as a snack, comes in various sauces and cooking styles.
Although sausage wasn’t originally an Iranian creation, when this dish arrived in Iran, people in the southern cities and ports put their spin on it to suit their tastes. Afterward, it became a popular street food in various Iranian cities, including Tehran. You can find this tasty treat on the streets of Tehran at any time when you visit the city.
The main ingredients include sausages, onions, and potatoes, seasoned with flavorful spices. Some places even add pizza cheese and mushrooms to the mix. It’s worth mentioning that the New York Times Instagram page has featured Sosis-Bandari as a delicious Iranian street food.
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Where to Find the Best Street Food in Tehran
Tehran has a wide range of street foods, and many old areas of the city have been active in this regard for a long time. People often remember these areas when talking about street food. However, in recent years, new spots like food trucks and other locations have joined the scene. Here are some of the best areas to enjoy street food in Tehran:
1. 30-Tir Street
Address: Tehran, Beginning of 30-Tir Street, Across from the Museum of Ancient Iran
This is one of the oldest streets in Tehran, which has been turned into a hub for street food enthusiasts since 1395 (Persian calendar). Museums, galleries, and many old houses surround the street, attracting numerous tourists. When you enter this best street food in Tehran, you’ll see various food stalls along its path. Many people enjoy their meals while strolling along the cobblestone street. It’s located in the heart of the city, and you can easily reach it by taking the metro to Ferdowsi Station.
2. Tehran Grand Bazaar
Address: Tehran, District 12, 15 Khordad Street, Tehran Grand Bazaar
Tehran Grand Bazaar is one of the older neighborhoods in Tehran where you can find just about anything you want and taste some of the best street food in Tehran. The food variety here is vast, and at any time of the day, you’ll find different vendors selling sandwiches, samosas, soup, and etc.
To get to the Grand Bazaar, it’s easy to take the metro and get off at the 15 Khordad station. It’s recommended not to go by personal car, as the streets are so busy that you might not find parking. Also, the Grand Bazaar is closed at night, so you’ll have to visit during the day.
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3. San’at Square
Address: Tehran, San’at Square, North Side of San’at Square and Paknejad Street
In the western part of Tehran, near San’at Square and Paknejad Street, there is a food street. In this area, with vans and trucks gathered side by side, the streets come alive at night with a colorful and bustling atmosphere filled with the aroma of various delicious foods.
Address: Tehran, Tajrish Square, Fanakhsarv Street, Darband Square
One of the best street food in Tehran is Darband, an old village in the northern part of Tehran. Darband Street starts from Tajrish Square (Tajrish) at an elevation of 1,600 meters above sea level and ends at Sarband Square at an elevation of 1,800 meters above sea level. One of the reasons for Darband’s fame is its street food. From Darband Square, you’ll have a pathway of about 250 meters where various shops are busy selling delicious street foods like Lavashak, Torshek, Baghali, and Jigar, to name a few.
5. Bagh-e-Ghaza (Food Garden)
Address: Haghani Expressway, West to East Route, After the Shahid Modarres Expressway Intersection, National Library Exit, Tehran Book Garden
Tehran Food Garden is located in the Abbasabad area and the western edge of Tehran’s Book Garden. To reach this best street food in Tehran, you should take the Haghani Expressway in a west-to-east direction and then follow the signs for the National Library, Book Garden, and Food Garden.
In Tehran Food Garden, you can see several vintage and classic cars and get acquainted with their history. These cars have been transformed into restaurants and mobile cafes. Interestingly, these cars have led to the area being known as the “Food Truck” location. You can enjoy a pleasant afternoon with coffee and cake or try a variety of Turkish, Arabic, Southern, and Italian dishes.